Siargao, a small island in Northern Mindanao, used to be almost exclusively a surfer’s paradise. I remember hearing about it for the first time over a decade ago from an old college classmate who happened to be a surfing enthusiast, and thought she was just saying “Surigao” with a twang.
In the last few years though, a surfer somewhere let out the secret that ultimately changed the island’s fate: there’s more to Siargao than surfing! And so the island’s tourism picked up. Despite what the island purists may claim – that its popularity has led to its ruin – I think Siargao is taking its sudden fame in stride. I’d even go so far as to propose that if you’re visiting the Philippines for the first time, Siargao is the perfect “gateway” island.
Why? First, Siargao has a good mix of tropical landscapes like white sand beaches, lagoons, and hills all within a compact space, giving you a great glimpse of the Philippines’ natural landscapes. Coupled with a homegrown artsy/indie culture, you’re sure to have Instagrammable spots for days.
Second, it has a better infrastructure compared to other islands in the archipelago. Travel to and within the island is simple – it’s island travel on easy mode. The roads are in good condition, making island excursions comfortable. Transportation options are plenty, ranging from vans to cars to bikes and the ubiquitous habal-habal. You’ll never have to walk if you don’t want to. It’s also a great place to learn how to ride a motorbike, which is definitely a valuable life skill if you plan to travel around the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia. Siargao’s roads also offer a not-so-shocking/traumatizing introduction to the Filipinos’ special brand of driving.
Third, the island serves up great food. You’ll find a mix of foreign and local eats, all of them delicious and healthy. This feature is a double-edged sword, though. Food in Siargao is exceptionally amazing, that it may just ruin the rest of Filipino food for you. But then again, it’s all a matter of taste – and the reason we like to travel is because we like to try different things, right? That said, the food was one of the best things we loved about this island.
Lastly, the island is home to locals that are definitely friendly and welcoming – even appreciative – of tourists. While you can meet friendly locals mostly everywhere in the Philippines, there is an added layer of professionalism to the way locals interact with visitors in Siargao. This may be just a small thing, but it definitely makes for a pleasant and memorable holiday.
In a way, Siargao reminds me a little of Bali (or at least, Bali in the early 2000s) – the foreign and local culture coexisting and drawing from each other’s strengths in a seamless way that feels organic and homegrown, coming together to form its own distinct chill island vibe. For those averse to culture shock, Siargao is a great first stop to ease into the curious, unpredictable, and ultimately infectious rhythm of life in the Philippines.
All of that said, I hope you’re now officially excited for your trip to Siargao. Here’s a quick guide to finding your place in the island.
Where to stay in Siargao – the best spots and resorts in the island
Quick tips – choosing the best place to stay in Siargao
- If you’re in Siargao to surf, stay near Cloud 9. While Siargao’s popularity has extended beyond the surfing community, surfing is still one of the best reasons to visit the island. Beginners and advanced surfers all make their way to Cloud 9 to ride the waves, so this is a great place to make your base.
- If you want to be in the center of Siargao’s food and night scene, stay in General Luna. You’ll most likely spend most of your days island-hopping or road tripping to Siargao’s tourist spots. If you want to end your day with a delicious meal and a lively evening, stay within General Luna, particularly along the Tourism Road.
- If a nice beachfront is a must for you, stay in these General Luna resorts or in Malinao. Not all the resorts in Siargao have a nice beachfront, even those along the coastline. These are the resorts with a nice beachfront unobscured by reefs or trees.
- If you want a quiet stay away from the crowds, stay in Pacifico or Baybay. Siargao has certainly become popular these past few years, and for good reason. If you want to enjoy a quieter side of the island, head north to the villages of Pacifico and Baybay, where you’ll get to enjoy a long stretch of white sand beach and a lot of peace and quiet.
Map – Siargao’s best resorts, restaurants, and attractions
Use this Google map to get a general idea of landmarks in Siargao.
One of the world’s best surf spots, Siargao probably has Cloud 9 to thank for bringing fame and ultimately inspiring the chill surfer vibe permeating in every corner of the island. Its dramatic reef break calls on to daredevils all around the world to ride the waves and even newbies to dip their toes into the surfer lifestyle. Even if you don’t actually plan to surf, you’ll love the vibe in Cloud 9. Grab a fruit smoothie, plop yourself on a hammock, and with the sound of waves and the golden sunset, live your island dream.
Where to stay in Cloud 9
★Travelers’ Pick: Riad Masaya – Siargao has an infectious, chill surfer vibe, and you’ll surely get loads of that in this cozy Moroccan-themed hostel. It’s within walking distance to Cloud 9 as well as restaurants and bars so you’re always in the middle of all the action. Its range of accommodations – from dorm rooms to private double rooms – attracts all sorts of travelers, so if you’re looking to connect with fellow island-lovers, this is your base.
Riptide Bungalows – You’ll feel right at home staying in this villa by the beach. Imagine waking up and having the sand and sun right outside your doorstep, while enjoying the villa’s luxurious amenities. It’s a great option for couples and small groups.
Ocean 101 Beach Resort – For some of the best views in General Luna, head over to Ocean 101 Beach Resort. It’s right next to Cloud 9 and has its own viewing deck, restaurant, and swimming pool. It’s one of General Luna’s most popular resorts, so make sure to book in advance.
Kawayan Siargao Resort – If you want your tropical holiday to have a bit of decadence and flair, make this boutique resort your base in Siargao. With a garden decked in palms and trees, villas with clean, native designs, and a restaurant serving some of the best eats in the island, you’ll enjoy a total tropical escape.
Here’s something we didn’t expect when we finally found ourselves in Siargao: the food was amazing! And it’s not just one or a few restaurants – the whole of General Luna was filled with amazing restaurants serving local and international cuisine, all with their own unique takes and twists to well-loved dishes.
If you’re a foodie, you’ll love General Luna. But even if you’re not, you’ll find yourself filling up on all the delicious and photogenic food, and dreaming about it for weeks after your stay.
Where to stay in General Luna, Siargao
★Travelers’ Pick: Turtle Surf Camp Siargao – Tourists flock to General Luna for a lot of good reasons – great restaurants and endless activities from surfing to yoga and all sorts of water sports. If you want to be in the center of the island’s action, stay in a central resort like the Turtle Surf Camp. It’s right in the middle of the Tourism Road and within walking distance to most of the island’s best eats. They can also arrange day tours for you, making your trip as hassle-free as possible. Great for groups of all sizes – they have double and family rooms.
Reef Beach Resort – Another great option along Tourism Road is Reef Beach Resort, which is particularly popular among families and groups. They have a pool, garden area, a bar, and spacious apartments, plus they can arrange or help you with island tours.
Another thing that we didn’t expect (a disappointing thing this time): Not all the resorts in General Luna have a nice beachfront, even those along the coastline. But there’s a nice stretch of beachfront unobscured by reefs or trees, and these are the resorts that have it.
If you can’t stay in any of these resorts, though, don’t get hung up on not having a nice beachfront. You can easily walk along the coast until you find a good spot, or if you’re staying for a couple of days only, you’ll mostly be spending your holiday island-hopping anyway.
Where to stay in General Luna with nice beachfront
★Travelers’ Pick: Isla Cabana – Easily one of the most gorgeous resorts in General Luna! They have a great beachfront, gorgeous villas, an infinity pool, plus a bar and a restaurant where you can kick back and enjoy the full tropical island experience.
Romantic Beach Villas – Another great spot to enjoy General Luna’s beachfront, Romantic Beach Villas is amazing not just for couples but also small groups and families. They have spacious rooms and bungalows, a bar and restaurant, and a swimming pool to cool down after a day of island adventures.
Orange Villa – This is a great choice for couples and small groups who prefer something a little more low-key. The Orange Villa experience is more homestay than resort, with convenient amenities, a sun terrace, and even a barbecue. Double rooms are also more affordable compared to others in the area.
Malinao is General Luna’s calmer, more peaceful neighbor, and the one that has a better beachfront. If you want to be within a short bike ride from General Luna’s bars and restaurants, but want also to have time for peace and quiet, Malinao is your spot.
Where to stay in Malinao
★Travelers’ Pick: Surfing Carabao Beach Houses – They have great bungalows, a well-maintained garden and beachfront, plus amazing hosts that truly showcase the best island hospitality.
Sandy Feet Siargao – Another great option in Malinao, but you’d have to book way in advance as they’re always fully booked! Sandy Feet Siargao has their own stretch of white sand beach, fully-equipped and practically livable villas, and an in-house restaurant serving delicious meals.
Nay Palad Hideaway (formerly Dedon Island Resort) – Planning a particularly fancy holiday? Nay Palad is the mother of all luxury hotels, not only in Siargao, but in the Philippines and even Asia. If the words “barefoot luxury” make your heart race, you’ll love to indulge in an all-inclusive holiday in this super luxurious resort.
If you’re up for a relaxing tropical holiday away from the crowds of General Luna, head over to Pacifico or Baybay. You’ll pretty much have a long stretch of white sand beach to yourself, endless palm trees, and the soothing sound of the Pacific Ocean’s waves crashing on the shore. You can also find surfing instructors around the area, good food options, and with a motorbike or a rental car, the rest of the island is just as accessible as if you were based in General Luna.
★Travelers’ Pick: White Sands Paradise Beach Resort – Great beachfront, affordable rooms, and a great restaurant on-site. Great for groups and families.
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There you have it – 12 of Siargao’s best resorts for every kind of traveler! Whether you’re planning to go to the island to surf and chill, eat and party, or indulge in barefoot luxury, you’ll find your own perfect little spot in Siargao.
Final tips for your stay in Siargao: book your accommodations early (2-3 months in advance if possible), be prepared to pay for everything in cash, and don’t over-plan your itinerary – let the waves take you, as they say.
Lastly, if you found this post helpful, please tell your friends about it. Don’t forget to check out our other guides for traveling in the Philippines. Thanks for reading and enjoy Siargao!